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Syria, Oil High On Putin's Agenda In Iran

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) greets Iranian President Hassan Rohani during a meeting in Baku in August 2016.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to discuss the conflict in Syria crisis and energy cooperation with Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei when he visits Tehran on November 1, the Kremlin says.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters on October 31 that "Syria-related issues will be on the agenda of the Russian-Iranian bilateral talks." He did not elaborate.

Russia and Iran back President Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria's more than six-year war, while the United States and Turkey back differing rebel groups.

On October 31, senior representatives from Russia, Iran, and Turkey meeting in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, pledged to bring Assad's regime and its opponents together for a "congress" to jump-start peace efforts later this month.

A statement on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website on October 31 listed 33 Syrian organizations invited to a "Congress of Syrian National Dialogue" in the Russian city of Sochi on November 18.

The proposal was one of the few notable outcomes from the seventh round of talks on Syria held in the Kazakh capital, Astana.

The Astana talks that began in January have run parallel to negotiations taking place in Geneva with the backing of the United Nations, and the congress plan appears to be Moscow's attempt to force the pace in a bid for a political settlement.

But representatives of the Syrian opposition in Astana cast doubt on the plan.

Yehya al-Aridi, a spokesman for the Syrian opposition, called the suggestion "a fake message" on Syria.

Putin will also hold trilateral talks with Rohani and Azerbaijani President llham Aliyev during his working visit to Tehran, Peskov said.

It will be the second meeting in such a format. The first such meeting was initiated by Aliyev last year.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, and Interfax